Allen B. (Keola) Richardson died in Honolulu at the age of fifty-six years, after a five-year fight with lung cancer. He was Program Director of the University of Hawaii Integrated Orthopaedic Residency Program and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Keola was born in Honolulu, the son of Florence and B. Allen Richardson. Keola's father, “Buster,” was the first board-certified Hawaiian orthopaedic surgeon.
Keola graduated from the Punahou School of Honolulu, received his undergraduate education at Yale University, and attended medical school at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he also completed his internship and residency in orthopaedics. After completing a sports-medicine fellowship at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic, he returned to Honolulu in 1979 to join Orthopedic Associates of Hawaii. He immediately became involved with teaching medical students and residents. In 1995, he became the Program Director of the Orthopaedic Residency Program and a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Hawaii.
Allen was always interested in sports and was a competitive swimmer both in high school and at Yale, where he was an All-American swimming champion. His interest in swimming continued throughout his life.
He served as the Chairman of Sports Medicine of FINA (Federation Internationale Natacione Amateur), the International Swimming Federation. He was instrumental in the construction and direction of a flume to study swimming physiology. He served as team physician for six Olympic swim teams and directed drug testing for the Olympics.
The sport of swimming was especially important to him because it was through this interest that he met Pokey Watson, a twotime Olympic Gold Medal swimmer, who later became his wife.
As the first fellowship-trained sports-medicine orthopaedist in Hawaii, Keola set up and directed the sports-medicine portion of the residency training program. He was the ultimate role model, so much so that most of the residents whom he trained continued on as sports-medicine fellows. He was also instrumental in encouraging sports-medicine orthopaedists in his community to provide expertise for high-school and university teams.
Keola pioneered sports medicine at the University of Hawaii. He founded a comprehensive university program that included orthopaedic consultants and sports-medicine family practitioners for all major sports teams. He was the team physician for the University of Hawaii's women's volleyball and basketball teams for twenty-five years. Under his careful guidance, the University of Hawaii's sports-medicine team ascended to become one of the country's elite. In addition to his interests in swimming and sports medicine, Keola was very involved in the community. He sat on many boards and directed educational and recreational activities in Honolulu.
As Director of the Orthopaedic Program at the University of Hawaii, Keola gave the graduating residents some advice in June 2003, shortly before his death. The advice he gave them is indicative of the kind of physician and the kind of man that he was. He said:
“First of all, be honest and true to yourself and those around you. The worst kind of doctor is a dishonest doctor, one who cannot see his own faults and strengths.
“Second, be nice to patients. The American public, more than anything else, wants doctors to be nice to them. As Frank Jobe told me years ago: `Patients won't like you if you're not nice to them.'
“Third, be humble and teach humility. Let it be said that there is no personality that can't be ruined by a little bit of arrogance. Humility means that you have enough self-confidence to be able to bury your huge surgeon's ego.
“Fourth, in this ultra-competitive world, try to be noncompetitive. Don't take offense when a patient asks for a second opinion, even though you know you are smarter than anyone else he might consult. Facilitate the second opinion, and be respectful even if the opinion is contrary to what you suggested.
“Fifth, be professional and act accordingly. Many people work around you. Treat them with respect, and they will respect you! You should be their leader and helper. Respect and leadership will create a better patient-care team.
“Our graduates are committed to patient care. They are willing to go the extra step to get to that next level at which the physician becomes an integral part of his community. It is exciting to think of our graduating young surgeons' carrying on the `torch' of orthopedic surgery and to think of these young `stars' being the ones into whose hands we entrust the future of our profession.”
Allen is survived by his wife, Pokey, and their three children, Andrew, Anne, and Puna, who are twenty-three, twenty, and eighteen years of age.
Keola will be sorely missed by his family, colleagues, patients, and friends. He will live on in the hearts of those who loved and admired him.
—R.E.A., D.M.K., A.P.